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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  December 15, 2016 11:00pm-11:31pm PST

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robinson, thank you for joining us tonight, appreciate it. >> great to be with you. >> msnbc's live coverage continues into "the 11th hour" now with brian williams. that's next. breaking news tonight, president obama vowing the u.s. needs to take action and will in the russian hacking. so what took so long? why didn't the white house do more before the election? we have new reporting on that tonight and late reaction live from moscow. and donald trump thanking voters tonight in pennsylvania and facing new questions about all the conflicts of interest he might face once he takes office. "the 11th hour begins now." >> good evening, you are looking live at a cold and snowy night in moscow, a city increasingly part of our discussion here in the u.s. tomorrow brings us to 35 days to inauguration day and the
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breaking story tonight, president obama vowing to take action, as he put it, on russia's involvement in the u.s. presidential election after nbc news broke the story last night that vladimir putin was directly involved in moscow's effort to interfere in our election. here is the in the a portion of an interview that will air in full tomorrow morning on npr's "morning edition." >> i think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we at a time and place of our own choosing. some of it may be explicit and publicized, some of it may not be but mr. putin is well aware of my feelings about to this because i spoke to them directly about it. >> the president-elect, meanwhile, took his road show
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tour to hershey, p.a., tonight but as kelly o'donnell pointed out, there were no mentions from the podium about the russia matter or the interference in the election. also tonight the nbc news investigative unit filed a followup to their report from last night. this time looking at why the obama white house didn't do more on russia's hacking before election day. the report that aired tonight says "they didn't want to appear to be interfering in the election and they fought that hillary clinton was going to win and a potential cyber war with russia wasn't worth it." that's according to multiple high level government officials. let's begin our discussion tonight, here with us to start us off, one of the reporters breaking this news, ken delaney, nbc news and intelligence and national security reporter from our washington bureau and up early before the sun on friday morning in moscow, our chief foreign correspondent richard engel is with us.
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ken, let me start with the question donald trump posed on twitter this morning and that is why did the white house take so long to act? >> you know, that was a really interesting and pointed question and the answer, administration officials tell us, first of all they believe they did act. in october, october 7, they released a statement in which all 17 intelligence agencies endorsed the idea that russia was interfering in the american election. i didn't remember this, but it so happened that statement was released on the same day that the "access hollywood" tapes came out and with the lewd remarks by trump and consumed the media oxygen for the next two weeks. obama had a news conference ten days after that, he didn't get a single question about russian hacking so from the white house's perspective, it -- it didn't break through. on the other hand, obama could have done something to force the issue and he didn't and because they were concerned that they would appear as if they were intervening in the election
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since the hacks clearly hurt clinton and benefitted trump the other reason is they didn't want to be forced into a cyber tit for tat with russia because they thought clinton was going to win and that the clinton administration would have plenty of time to respond. now they here in a situation where trump had been saying that he doesn't believe russia was behind the hacks. trump is one of the most pro-russian candidates that's ever run for office in the united states and they're concerned russia will get away with it. tomorrow we'll hear obama talk about how serious he think this is is and how the u.s. is going to respond. >> richard engel, as an american in moscow, how does this all look over there? >> well, the kremlin is denying any involvement and they have been effectively challenge the u.s. to prove it and as ken was just saying, the intelligence community thus far have been very reluctant to show its cars, to show why it believes that russia put its hand on the scales for donald trump.
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the allegations in this stage have been treated with a degree of scorn. but here in moscow the people are more or less accepting the government line. they're saying it's preposterous to say that putin was directly involved. i think when you translate that in russian people think he was sitting there with his hands on the computer actually doing the hacking. i've been told by my own sources that it was much more of a role of a manager and that putin got more involved personally as this process went on and as it seemed like it was gaining some traction. >> ken, has there been any migration in the position of donald trump? we have heard his surrogates certainly on this broadcast every night all this week pretty much toeing the same line. >> well, the interview you did last night with anthony
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scaramucci, i saw that as a sign that trump world was coming around on this. >> incrementally, perhaps? >> yeah, but he wasn't challenging the idea russia was we hind the hacks then you had trump tweeting this morning, inaccurately, but again he wasn't challenging the idea, he was entertaining the idea that maybe russia was behind the attacks and i suspect that's because trump and his people have been briefed on this intelligence and they realize it's untenable for them to deny that russia is playing a role when the entire intelligence community is saying otherwise, brian. >> richard engel, as someone who has covered kinetic shooting warfare for over the past decade, what else is going on here? offer some context to americans who may not regard this as anything close to an act of warfare. >> well, what's interesting is the u.s. over the last almost 20 years now has been very involved
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in shooting wars and has gotten very good at counterterrorism sbermgs. but many in the intelligence community i've been speenging with are saying the white house, the intelligence community more broadly is ill equipped to deal with cyber attacks, doesn't really know how to respond, doesn't know what a proportionate response would be and that is something that they're feeling they were a little bit flat footed on this and they're blaming effectively the obama administration and president obama himself for not reacting more swiftly. they're saying his tough talk now is frankly a little bit too little too late. but in terms of the broader picture, what is seen from moscow is that moscow has this tool, is using this tool ander other tool it has in this arsenal in order to make russia great again.
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that russia was an empire, that it is still feeling the collapse of the soviet union very bitterly, very personally and that president putin sees it as his mission to reestablish russian dominance over the area that was the soviet union, including crimea, including ukraine. and that hacking is one tool it has in its arsenal and it's used in the the past quite effectively and quite in a well-documented way in europe and eastern europe and use it now to influence the u.s. election. >> perhaps they're making baseball caps with that phrase on them as we speak. richard engel early on a friday morning in moscow. ken delaney late on a thursday night in washington. gentlemen, thank you so much for starting off our broadcast with us tonight. our next guest is a proud product of the state of montana and stanford university where he has now returned as professor of political science. more importantly for our
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conversation, michael mcfaul served as u.s. ambassador to russia for two years ending in 2014. mr. ambassador, what do you make of this little wrinkle about putin richard engel just used based on his own reporting that putin was in more of a managerial function which we could have surmised and chiefly what are the risks for mr. trump? >> well, first of all, of course the russians are going to deny they were involved. that is their job. that's what mr. lavrov did today, the foreign minister. who would predict otherwise? second, i know that system well, i've lived there many years, i was the ambassador, i dealt with cyber security issues every single day for five years in the u.s. government. there is no way somebody was going to authorize the publication of those stolen e-mails from the dnc without vladimir putin's approval. this is a one-man system. this is run by him.
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he is a former member of the kgb. nobody would have done that without his approval. with respect to trump, i hope he will come to realize that if he doesn't embrace the facts that this will just haunt him for -- his administration. we'll keep talking about it, we'll keep asking him why he is denying what everybody else thinks is overwhelming evidence and i don't think that serves his own purposes for getting off to a clean start with the u.s. government, including the cia. and i also don't -- i think it constrains what he might want to do with russia if every time he does something that was perceived as being pro-russian his critics are going to say well, that's because the russians helped him win the election. >> and back to mr. putin, to the point you made about him, i'm sure you join us in being fascinated at the normalization effort by some this past week. the folks who are going out of
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their way to give him the benefit of the doubt. we've had a former cia director on this broadcast this week. we've had a republican senator, both doing the same thing and very similar talking points. tell us about the vladimir putin you came to know. >> i, too, am shocked by this. i would remind you two years ago many of these same people were saying "why is obama so weak in responding to russian annexation of crimea and intervention into ukraine?" amazing how fast people have flipped. but i agree with what richard was saying. he wants to use all instruments that he can to advance his interests. he thinks that mr. trump is more -- will be easier to deal with for russia than secretary clinton. he had a vendetta against secretary clinton, that is for sure because of what he perceived as her meddling in russian electoral processes.
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and he is now proven that he's not afraid to use this kind of instrument to realize those ends and that's what's really new here. everybody does intelligence gathering, right? every country that has the capability seeks to gather intelligence. what is unprecedented is the publication of that intelligence to affect an election and in this case the presidential election in the united states of america. >> we're going to hear from president obama tomorrow. if you were president obama, what can the u.s. do? what should the u.s. do? and should be tempered by the careful what you wish for, by the capabilities you know the russians to possess? >> of course. let me say i have lots of friends still in the white house at least until january 21 and over the course of this period what has been reported on your show is what i heard from my colleagues as well.
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they did not want to in any way appear they were using our privileged access to intelligence to tip our election. having said that, now that they have 35 days left as you just said, i want's incumbent upon the president to make available as many facts as possible before they leave office. we can talk about tit for tat in a minute, but the most important thing he can do that's in his control is help us get the facts so that at least we can prepare for the next election in 2020. >> if you had told me we would be talking about russia on this date and this year i wouldn't have believed you, i'm quite sure that at the stanford university campus you're quite surprised it has come up as the topic. >> i am, indeed, and i wish it were for better reasons and not for these reasons but this is a very serious national security issue that i don't think we've caught up to the consequences.
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i'm glad we're doing this now. by the way, maybe we should have been doing more reporting when the october 9 release was done. i myself think we were distracted from this. at least we're giving it the right attention now. >> but when the outtakes of that video came out we were distracted in a big way, i'm afraid. michael mcfaul, former ambassador to russia from the united states. thank you for coming on the broadcast with us tonight. coming up after our first break, new questions for donald trump and his potential conflicts of interest on this day when he was supposed to address that very topic. that's when "the 11th hour"continues. ways wins.
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amid a canceled news conference that was supposed to be today, posts on social media and official meetings, including his children, questions about donald trump's businesses are at the center of this transition thus far. he wrote on twitter today "the media tries so hard to make my move to the white house as it pertains to my business so complex when actually it isn't." as he plans the move, he is holding meetings with politicians, celebrities, business leaders like the tech summit he mosted yesterday at trump tower but pan over to the left and his three children were there, even as he says his sons will likely run his business once he becomes president, raising a lot of questions about possible conflicts of interest. his former campaign manager and transition team member kellyanne conway spoke about this this morning here on "morning joe." >> the anti-nepotism law
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apparently has an exception if you want to work in the west wing because the president is able to appoint his own staff. so of course this came about in -- to stop maybe family members serving on the cabinet. but the president does have discretion to choose a staff of his his liking and so that is true and that legal advice holds that will open up a realm of populations. >> are we expecting jared and ivanka trump to be the two family members that are most likely to take part in the administration? >> i think that's a fair assessment but they will make those decisions in due course. >> all this comes as senator elizabeth warren vows to introduce a bill to force business transparency and action. it would require the president and vice president to disclose and divest potential conflicts of interest. we have two friends of ours in the studio tonight to talk about this, correspondent katy tur is here with us and chief business correspondent ali
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velshi is here to talk with us about this. katy, you've been our road warrior for -- i've stopped counting the months you've been covering donald trump. i'm sure you're trying to put it out of your mind. to either of you, are we wrong to say this is two issues here? there's family members and what their role is going to be. should the trump kids be vetting candidates for the cabinet who will then have deals with the trump kids later on representing the president? and there's financial. all this talk about a blind trust. donald trump has used the expression blind trust. blind trust mean just that. >> well, i don't think we can separate them because they arguably are the same thing. donald trump and his family and his businesses are all one. the kids going into cheese cabinet meetings, transition meetings, it can be problematic because once donald trump takes the office who is he going to be making governmental deals with?
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is don jr. or eric or ivanka trump or whomever going to say hey, listen i really like so and so with this company, that i've done great deals with this in the past. dad, you should give them that government contract, that is a problem. secondly, donald trump's businesses even if he does give it over to his kids, he is still going to be able to visibly see them. his name is on buildings overseas. it's not blind if he doesn't divest. this is something he is going to be just innately aware of wherever he's doing any dealings so it's one big tangled mess. >> and it gets more tangled in that many people have grown to think that donald trump owns a lot of property and that's what it comes down to, he's a man that makes much of his money by licensing his name out and we know who that has become very important in other parts of the world. there are partners he's got all over the world who have either hotels or golf courses or other lines of business profiting from donald trump being the president of the united states.
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>> just as much a conflict. >> that is correct. so in the end it's not a matter of -- this might be lucrative to him. we don't know what donald trump is worth, that's the bottom line. this may prove to be the most lucrative thing he's ever done and that should be of concern. >> how that would be true? >> let's say he's worth a couple hundred million dollars and i can't tell you how much he's worth because we have not been provided with that evidence. "forbes" says they've been tracking him for 30 years and they think he's worth$3.7 billion. no one else can get to those numbers. some think a hundred million and he's in debt to a lot of places, including china and deutsche bank. if he is out there being president and it's enriching his partners how is he separating himself from a business even if it were in a blind trust? he would have to divest and elizabeth warren is in the minority but she's on to something that unless i know he's working for the american people and not in the
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interesting of his licensing and brand i don't know what the deal with turkey looks like or russia or china or why he's bombing this one or refuses to sanction that one. >> can i add one other thing? the government right now is looking at ways to potentially put consequences on vladimir putin for interfering with the election. how? they're looking at his -- >> financial holdings. >> his financial holdings, his secret financial holdings. how are we going to stop a financial or a foreign government from doing the same to donald trump if they decide they don't like the government policies he enacts overseas in tern countries? are they going to do the same to his holdings? his buildings overseas? his brands overseas? his companies? are they going to stop going to his d.c. hotel? and in effect is that going to color the way donald trump does his foreign policy and the decisions he makes? >> ali, i think it's the "journal" tonight reporting that someone from inside trump tower said facetiously "do you want us
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to sell these at a --" this would be a fire sale. are they looking at a fire sale? >> he's used this argument before, including the building just north of us, 290 sixth avenue where he was in the business with the chinese, he had a 30% stake in the building, the chinese went to sell a parcel of properties, he tried to get it blocked in court by saying it's a fire sale. they got out and he ended up making more money than before but that ice his excuse and a lot of people use the excuse that if you cause me to have to tell something i didn't want to sell it -- because by the way the single most famous divorce excuse. when you divorce you have to separate your assets and it means selling a house and nobody wants to do it and for the rest of the time they'll complain you made me get less from my house because you forced me to divorce. that's the way it goes. you decide you want to divorce or run for president there are things you have to do because otherwise the rest of us don't know what your motivation is. here's the problem. i think a lot of people who voted for donald trump voted for him for a reason. one reason is economic
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dissatisfaction and jobs and if that's the road he's going down it may not matter. >> leave it to the lawyers to worry about matters like this. see, we get to politics, love and sex and money before it's over. katy tur, ali velshi, thank you very much. coming up, the trump transition makes news tonight with their pick for ambassador in one of the most volatile regions of the world. this is "the 11th hour."
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well, some news coming out of trump tower this evening. so the last thing before we go tonight, president-elect trump announced his pick for u.s. ambassador to israel. bankruptcy lawyer david freedman. freedman has worked with trump in past bankruptcy proceedings and advised candidate trump on the israeli/u.s. relationship during the campaign. in terms of policies, friedman is against a two-state solution for israel and palestine, he is supportive of israeli settlements, entirely opposite the present u.s. policy under president obama. he's an orthodox jew who speaks hebrew, supports moving the u.s. embassy from tel aviv where it's been for almost 70 years over to jerusalem, that's a move trump campaigned on. a former israeli palestinian negotiator told politico "it's hard to come up with a single act that would make the middle east burn more than it's burning now." critics tonight are also pointing to friedman having called president obama an
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anti-semite and pushed the conspiracy theory about hillary clinton aide huma abedin having connections to the muslim brotherhood. the road to confirmation for ambassadors goes through the senate foreign relations committee. it takes only one republican crossover to join democrats and block any nominee for an ambassadorship. all eyes will be on them. that does it for our broadcast tonight. thank you for watching. "hardball" with chris matthews is up next. it's trump and putin versus u.s. intelligence agencies. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm joy reid in new york in for chris matthews. there isn't much disagreement when it comes to russia's role in interfering with the u.s. election this year. 17 intelligence agencies said
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